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An extra attacker
in ice hockey
Ice hockey, often referred to as hockey, is a team sport played on ice, in which skaters use wooden or composite sticks to shoot a hard rubber puck into their opponent's net. The game is played between two teams of six players each. Five members of each team skate up and down the ice trying to take...
is a forward or, less commonly, a defenceman who has been substituted in place of the goaltender
In ice hockey, the goaltender is the player who defends his team's goal net by stopping shots of the puck from entering his team's net, thus preventing the opposing team from scoring...
. The purpose of this substitution is to gain an offensive advantage to score a goal. The removal of the goaltender for an extra attacker is colloquially called pulling the goalie
, resulting in an empty net
The extra attacker is typically utilized in two situations:
- Near the end of the game — typically the last 60 to 90 seconds — when a team is losing by one or two goals. In this case, the team risks a goal being scored on its empty net. In "do-or-die" situations, such as playoff elimination games, teams may pull the goalie for an extra attacker earlier in the game and/or when they are down by more goals.
- During a delayed penalty call. In this case, once the opposing team regains possession of the puck, play will be stopped for the penalty. This means there will be no chance for a shot to be taken by the penalized team, rendering the goaltender of little use. On rare occasions (and much to the humiliation of the team which has pulled its goalie), however, the puck can find its way into the empty net (without the penalized team ever gaining possession) as a result of an errant pass or other mishandling of the puck by the team with the man advantage. As is the case in hockey rules, the goal is awarded to the player on the penalized team who had last touched the puck, and the serving of the penalty begins after the faceoff at center ice. In a game between the Carolina Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes are a professional ice hockey team based in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. They are members of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League , and play their home games at the 18,680-seat RBC Center...
and the Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals are a professional ice hockey team based in Washington, D.C. They are members of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . Since their founding in 1974, "The Caps" have won one conference championship to reach the 1998 Stanley Cup...
, Dainius Zubrus
Dainius Gintas Zubrus is a Lithuanian professional ice hockey right winger and center currently playing for the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League...
scored a goal when Niclas Wallin
Niclas Wallin is a Swedish professional ice hockey player currently playing for Luleå of the Swedish Elitserien .-Playing career:...
humiliatingly scored on his own empty net during a delayed penalty.
The term sixth attacker
is also used, though it is often a misnomer, as teams may pull the goalie when shorthanded by one or two players, in which case the "sixth" attacker would actually be a fifth or fourth attacker.
Also, in overtime, an extra attacker is added automatically when a team down one player because of penalty is penalised again for a second minor penalty; the team on the power play will play five on three for the rest of the two-man advantage, and until the next whistle. In leagues with a three on three overtime, each minor penalty results in an extra attacker for the team on the power play.
Russian and Soviet coaches are known for refusing to pull their goalies when behind late in games, as was the case in the 1980 Winter Olympics
Ice hockey at the 1980 Winter Olympics was held at the Olympic Arena and the Olympic Fieldhouse in Lake Placid, New York. Twelve teams competed in the tournament, which was held from February 12 to February 24...
The "Miracle on Ice" is the name in American popular culture for a medal-round men's ice hockey game during the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, New York, on Friday, February 22...
between Russia and the USA.
The extra attacker concept was created by Art Ross
Arthur Howey "Art" Ross was a Canadian ice hockey defenceman and executive from 1905 until 1954. Regarded as one of the best defenders of his era by his peers, he was one of the first to skate with the puck up the ice rather than pass it to a forward...
, coach and general manager of the Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins are a professional ice hockey team based in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . The team has been in existence since 1924, and is the league's third-oldest team and its oldest in the...
. In a playoff game against the Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens are a professional ice hockey team based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . The club is officially known as ...
on March 26, 1931, Ross had goaltender Tiny Thompson
Cecil Ralph "Tiny" Thompson was a Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender. He played 12 seasons in the National Hockey League , first for the Boston Bruins, and later for the Detroit Red Wings. A four-time Vezina Trophy winner, Thompson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1959...
go to the bench for a sixth skater in the final minute of play; even so, the Bruins lost the game 1–0.